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Father Ordered by Court to Help Pay Child's College Tuition

In a recent case Long island Divorce Attorney Natasha Meyers was able to help her client make a very important modification to her child support order—a change that forced her ex-husband to share in the responsibility of paying for their daughter's college education. In the case, the Family Court of the State of New York in Suffolk County ordered the ex-husband of Attorney Meyers' client to pay 50% of their daughter's college tuition and mandatory fees. Previously, the ex-husband refused to share in the costs, stating that he was unable to afford it and that his existing child support order did not require this type of financial assistance. He had also complained that his ex-wife and daughter never included in him in the choice of the college. This led to Attorney Meyers' client filing petitions for a modification and enforcement of her child support order.

When the ex-spouses got divorced in 2004, they did not include any stipulations concerning future college expenses in their divorce judgment (Their children were only 8 years old and 6 years old at the time). Nearly a decade later, in the fall of 2012, the oldest child started applying to colleges. Of the universities she was accepted into, she chose one that cost $36,500 a year, which included costs for room and board. This became problematic since her mother (whom she resided with) could not afford the expenses on her own and was rejected for a Parent Plus loan. The daughter did secure Stafford loans, but she did not get any scholarships or grants. Attorney Meyers' client turned to her ex-husband for support, but he claimed that he was too financially strapped to provide any assistance.

The family court considered both sides of the case, including the fact that the ex-husband made $76,000 a year but also had certain financial struggles—he was behind on mortgage payments and he was also supporting another family, which included his current wife and their son. He was also paying child support for the two children he had with Attorney Meyers' client.

After assessing the facts, the court decided to modify the child support agreement. The ex-husband was ordered to pay half of his daughter's college tuition and mandatory fees, though he was not ordered to help pay for her room and board since that was already accounted for in his child support payments. The court noted various factors that contributed to the final decision. These included the parents' income levels, the fact the daughter was already an enrolled college student when the hearing took place, the fact that both parents had graduated from college and the fact that they both affirmed that their daughter was capable of benefiting from college.

When it comes down to cases such as these in New York, it is completely up to the court to decide whether or not an award for college expenses should be granted as a part of a child support agreement. Parents have the option of either including the matter of college expenses in their initial child support agreements, or to seek this financial support at a later time. At The Meyers Law Group, P.C., we are pleased that we were able to help this college student and her mother get the support they deserved. Contact us to learn how our firm can help you with your family law case!